In a series of posts the coming weeks we will introduce you to the member of the Steering Committee of the Network of Women in Marine Science (WiMS). Today the turn has come to Professor Esmeralda Celeste Mariano from Mozambique. Esmeralda is the Country Representative from Mozambique in the Steering Committee. She works at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo as Associate Dean for Post-Graduate courses at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Professor at the Department of Archeology and Anthropology.
Why did you decide to join WiMS?
Women in general are not encouraged to pursue a career in sciences, and then even less in marine sciences. This is a global trend that is perhaps even more accentuated in Africa including the eastern region where my country is.
I would like to contribute to change this trends through a number of actions. As a social scientist (anthropologist) I have coordinated social researches along the Mozambican coast with coastal communities (eg MOZALINK and SPACE). With my background in social and cultural anthropology, with more than 15 years of experience in social research, as a gender specialist, I think I can contribute to the promotion of gender equality, women’s empowerment, reducing the exclusion of women in areas considered masculine, with a view to a sustainable development in Mozambican rural and urban contexts.
Each of the members of the Steering Committee (SC) are appointed for 3 years. What would you like to achieve during your time in the SC?
During the three years as a member of the SC of WiMS, I intend to map the number of Mozambican women in the marine sciences working in Mozambique; identify the main areas of its activity in the management of the sea; create conditions to involve more women in research and extension, training, management, space planning and conservation of the coastal environment along the Mozambican coast and in the region. I also want to explore the main concerns and barriers (social, gender, political and economic) that women face in their daily lives in the performance of their activities as marine scientists.The desired achievements of my contribution as a member of SC would be to increase the number of young women joining marine sciences and the number of women seeking higher education at masters and doctoral levels in these fields. It would also be important to seek means to provide support for them for women related issues. For example, some women may have difficulties returning to work after a maternity leave, or going abroad for studies if they have small children. I think this network can also provide a platform where young women can be inspired by others more experienced and that have a lot to share. Other achievements also include increase the number of scientific publications from the region led by women. Publication by itself is low in the region, and then, when we go down to authorship, the number of women is very low, even though women are doing a lot of science.
Why should women marine scientists join WiMS?
I think it is a good platform to share experiences among us, where we can also discuss issues that affect women more than men. This includes finding opportunities, higher education, leadership, reconcile career and personal life, and so much more.
The membership of women in WiMS can benefit the young generation with opportunities created and offered by women, regardless of their geographical location, race, religion, or other factors of exclusion. In Mozambique there is a participation of women in several fishing activities, however, their performance and social role is not always recognized. Women are more humble and sometimes self-exclusive in relation to men. Women also lack access to resources compared to men to develop their activities. I believe that the woman-woman interaction, can facilitate the discussion on the management of environmental and coastal issues. WiMS can provide a viable, gender sensitive platform and improve the effective participation of women in whom they also feel socially recognized.
Do you have any advice for young women planning to pursue careers in marine science?
Yes. This is an exciting field, full of opportunities to learn and grow as a professional and a person. It is also a good way to contribute to global well-being, by allowing us to bring answers to the issues that afflict our communities and the world. Women may not go directly to fishing with boats as men, but are mostly intermediaries in the distribution of resources. In their different ages – girls and women – participate as a collector for family sustenance. Although the participation of women in management of resources is often silenced, their role is relevant at micro and macro level, for the family income as well as for the social development. Women’s participation in WiMS can contribute to changing gender stereotypes and behavior in marine resource management.